Persuasion and Negotiation

During our class, we discussed 6 principles of persuasion and their effect on company culture. In order to supplement our understand of the topic, I would like to introduce negotiation concepts that help in micromanaging interactions. Persuasion and negotiation basically share similar consequences, in that we want people to be thinking in a similar position. With persuasion techniques, we are typically looking at ways that we want to build or leverage positive social capital to get what we want. However, within organizations, clashes are likely to occur in formal environments, which will lead to deadlocks between conflicting opinions. Utilizing my understanding of negotiation techniques, it is my hope that we will be able to enhance our understanding of how our actions can affect others within organizations.

One of the techniques, which can be applied in being more persuasive, is training to become better active listeners. The technique requires individuals to be more proactive in paraphrasing what the other party has said. This helps in confirming the understanding of the same position by both parties and runs a lower chance of misunderstanding. In building up workplace relations, being able to be an active rather than passive listening is essential to being convincing.

In a book by Len Leritz, titled “No-Fault Negotiation”, he identified the 5 problematic types of people in the workplace. The 5 problematic types are as follow:

1) The Bullies who attempt to intimidate rather than negotiate

2) The Avoiders who try their best to not deal with problems and instead may duck responsibilities

3) The Withdrawer whom like the proverbial turtle, hide in their shell and refuse or are unable to participate

4) The High Rollers who use shock and haste to get what they want by confusing the other party

5) The Wad Shooters who employ “my way or the highway” in order to gain the best possible benefits for themselves

Within organizations, it is more likely that collective groups will be represented by the identities above and how they deal with people. The 6 principles which were discussed in class, will need to be applied cautiously depending on which group we are interacting wi  th.

Leritz also has a list of 11 other ways to dealing with the problematic 5, but due to the brevity of this journal, we shall be looking at only 5.

1)   Getting their attention –  This involves building up a boundary for situations that is particularly effective against bullies. When the other party is aware that you are being pushed near to the end of your boundary, the more likely they are to pay attention to what you are doing.

2)   Call a spade a spade – When negotiating, pointing out that the other party is stonewalling or making things difficult can contribute to a more conducive discussion. It helps to elicit emotional responses such as shame or realization that will help to place both parties back on track

3)   Put fears to rest – This technique mainly refers to assurance to that the other party will be more trusting towards you. It can be used in conjuction with reciprocation in order to create a more stable relationship between 2 parties. Particularly useful with avoiders whom may have underlying reasons as to why they are not willing to be persuaded.

4)   Put the ball back into their court – Understanding the needs or wants of the other party will be helpful in knowing their position. Asking the other party to explain how they are able to justify their current position will erode the bargaining power of those whom are making unreasonable demands such as the wad-shooters and high-rollers.

5)   Point out consequences – Due to the complexity of workplace arrangements, it is likely that both parties will be affected by the outcome of decisions made. Being logical and convincing may help to point out the gravity of situations and thus contribute to a mutually beneficial solution for both sides.

In conclusion, human interactions are trickily complex and may lead to misunderstandings even with the best of intentions. However, combining both the 6 principles of persuasion and Leritz’s recommendations, we are likely to have a better chance of surviving them without stepping on too many toes.

Resiliency in a modern world

One of the topic of this semester which resonates on an academic and national level, is that of resilience. More often than not, we hear in national publications the need to build a “resilient Singapore”. It was not until this course that I properly understood what are the components that contribute to such a concept.

In this post, I shall seek to provide some examples on how we can enhance the 3 components of normalcy, identity anchors and social capital. This will be done under the umbrella of organizational behavior and on a corporate level.

With regards to normalcy, I believe that normalcy should be observed under a globalized context. Large businesses that have stakeholders across multiple borders should be reframing what normal really is. Normalcy can be easily mistaken for stability with regards to organizations and that would be detrimental to performance. This is especially the case given the 24/7 nature of information transfer on mass media networks. I have found that Samsung’s crisis culture where they operate under the idea of “impending doom” as shown in Gerard J. Tellis’ book, Unrelenting Innovation: How to Create a Culture for Market Dominance. Being in a constant state of awareness of one’s surroundings can help to minimize the impact of a crisis when it actually hits. Though it applies additional strain, being prepared is much better than being caught off-guard. It has worked well for Samsung’s global rise in taking on Apple and we have much to learn from them.

Secondly, with regards to identity anchors, this can be achieved through strong corporate cultures. Companies such as Google and Starbucks have their founding tales as a sort of corporate legend. It helps to create a more cohesive atmosphere for identity building as it provides a rallying point for employees. Having a shared sense of history also provides a sense of belonging for those that are newly joining the corporate family. Companies that are large enough should be taking advantage of their history and help to make it a source of inspiration. Furthermore, tales of the company riding out crises can further add armour to the protection that a corporate identity can provide.

Social capital can be enhanced within companies that perpetuate a collaborative environment within the company. When it comes to a crisis, it is most likely that our support comes from intracompany sources. What this entails for an organization looking to enhance resilience, is investment into building such networks when problems have yet to crop up. For when a crisis hits, it would be too little too late to begin, signaling low social capital. Though I do not currently possess any company based examples of this, ASEAN is a good example of crisis management due to built up social capital. With the European financial crisis of 2008, the ASEAN region was sheltered from the harshest effects of the fallout due to intraregional trade.  Closer trading and political relations around the region helped to create a buffer against falling demand from Europe. Companies that have closer relations within itself are likely to benefit from this as well. Bonding within the company and establishing networks can be achieved through internal activities such as networking sessions and collaborations. Of course, this depends company to company but it can begin at a lower level between departments before expanding the programme throughout the company.

Overall, we should understand that resilience is a factor that is not built up easily. It requires the creation of a firm foundation that people can stand and depend on in times of crisis. Companies should take advantage of peaceful lulls in order to start building that foundation before it is too late.

Channeling Motivation

Living in the modern age where digital communication is the new norm, it is easy to make the assumption that managing human expectations and behavior is now passé. Human interaction is being downplayed through the use of automated messages or text only interactions. This then contributes to a mentality, which also downplays the need for organizational behavior management. On the contrary, due to the rapidly connecting world of business, organizational behavior is in fact, more important than ever before due to the growing weight of each customer touch point. With less and less customer interaction, each interaction can make or break the impression one holds of the organization. As succinctly put by Gary Hamel, “competition now increasingly stands between competing business concepts”, in other words, the human touch can be a foundation for businesses to build their success off.

Unfortunately, it is not as easy as we assume to manage our human resources. From personal experiences in working, corporate burnout for employees is a real problem that is plaguing organizations. Creating a healthy working environment for the social and mental wellbeing of employees is something that most strive towards but fail to do so. In fact, we can see that the topic of beating the dreaded “Monday Blues” trending every week, making this idea of motivation and engagement more pertinent than ever before.

Companies can be so fixated on the buzzword of “motivation” and the potential benefits that it brings, that they forget to develop the processes that get them there. Focusing on the process can be more beneficial as it would not merely be a obligatory idea generation exercise, but employees will be more committed and motivated to being innovative. An example of this would be in how Google promotes creativity amongst its staff through different channels of expression. For example, the company has provided cafes to promote interaction amongst staff to help “percolate” ideas and sift out the best. Employees are also encouraged direct question to leaders, which gives them a better understanding of the big picture. We can deduce that without proper channels to for employees to express themselves and develop themselves, motivation will be lower.

From this, we can make four recommendations for companies looking to have more motivated employees:

1) Create an environment that values not only ideas but employees themselves

In creating an environment that values employees as well as ideas, it avoids one of the major pitfalls of organizational behavior, transactional relationships. Employees should feel as far as possible, a sense of ownership and familiarity within their respective institutions of employment. This way, short-termism in thinking can be avoided. Furthermore, employees should have a stronger sense of connection with the company, which will then increase their inherent sense of motivation.

2) Ensure there are channels for opinions to be expressed

Leading on, having channels for creativity and feedback creates a more holistic environment for employees as they will be more likely to feel that their actions shape the company around them. Much like what Google has done, it not only betters the future of the company but also shapes the environment that employees would like to see themselves working in.

3) Have open 2-way communication if feasible

2-way communication channels between employees and their superiors will increase motivation in the long run assuming it is employed correctly. That is to say, merely having a suggestion box in the office is insufficient. Instead, issues that are raised by employees should be taken into consideration in a serious manner. Feedback that is provided could very well impact internal operations or external reception of an organization.

4) Reinforce a customer centric culture

A customer centric culture helps to tie up what this entry has been touching on, that customers will differentiate businesses in the future based on how they perceive they have been engaged. This recommendation does not look at creating mindless zombies that are falsely led to believe that “the customer is king”. But rather, they should be motivated to look into areas where they can create value for a customer and enhance their experience. That way, it becomes less of a rigid mantra and more of a culture that employees themselves can believe in.

From the above recommendations, organisations will hopefully be able to create an environment that is holistic in terms of customer and employee valuing. Employees will then be more likely to be contributing and empowered members of a common team and thereby be more able to work towards shared goals.

Resources:

He, L. (2013, March 23). Google’s secrets of innovation: Empowering its employees. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/laurahe/2013/03/29/googles-secrets-of-innovation-empowering-its-employees/

Neilsen, C., & Montemari, M. (2012). The role of human resources in business model performance: the case of network-based companies. Journal of Human Resource Costing & Accounting, 16(2), 142-164. Retrieved from www.emeraldinsight.com/1401-338X.htm